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90s TV show look

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Arvid Utas
90s TV show look
on Jul 14, 2010 at 5:25:54 pm

Hello all, my first post here so forgive me if this isn't the right forum for this question.

I've been asked to shoot a parody of a 90s episode of Blue Peter (UK childrens show).
I'm using a Sony HVR V1 and I was wondering what I should do to get the right 90s look?
4:3 aspect ratio is quite obvious but is there any other settings on the camera that could improve the 90s feel?
As for lighting I'm a bit of a beginner, is there anything I can do in that department to get the 90s TV look?

Much appreciated!

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Mark Suszko
Re: 90s TV show look
on Jul 14, 2010 at 9:29:42 pm

Well, it's more of an 80's thing, maybe early 90's, but to me the most memorable thing was that the 3-point lighting then used a lot more obvious back-lighting/rim lighting on head and shoulders than I would normally use now, and less diffusion on the lights than we tend to use today, offset with more playing around with on-lens filtration, grads, and especially white and black pantyhose, stretched out over the back of the lens and held on with rubber bands or clips made from 35mm still cam containers. That trick eventually became a screw-on type of glasss filter with a grid of black or white lines on it, used to try to make tape look more like film (it never ends)...

They were trying hard with the lower quality tube and early chip cameras of the day to accentuate the illusion of depth in shots. Slashes of light across the back wall were also de rigeur back in the day.

The equivalent show to Blue Peter in the USA would have been "Zoom", a public broadcasting kids show with skits, jokes, games, craft projects and the like. The lighting as I recall was simplistic and hot 3-point, the backgrounds meant to fade back into the dark because sets were expensive and limbo is free.

Specific to the camera, maybe add a black stocking type diffusion filter to the lens, to help the highlights bloom a little. Play with the gamma/knee settings to decrease contrast ratio, and maybe, I dunno, up the color saturation a bit, make the colors sizzle and bleed, especially the reds. If this is to look like archival footage, running thru a couple of generations of analog dubs will help. If you're fresh out of betacam or umatic decks to do that with, try some very gently solarizatino and grain filter plug-ins in post, Nattress and magic bullet should help with that. In the early 90's you still had a few tube-based imagers in cameras, so tube burns and trails from any very bright hotspots in the shot like exposed lights ot the sun would be noticeable. Try to find a youtube clip of U-2 at Red Rocks concert for an example of burned tubes.

This is all just one guy's opinion, but hey, I was there at the time:-)

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